+ “Wordstorming” to Anticipate Content

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From Janet Allen’sMore Tools for Teaching Content Literacy,” one tool is called “Wordstorming.”  [For her great flipchart book with this actual chart and many more, visit Stenhouse Publishers at www.stenhouse.com.]

Create a Chart for the Class

Create a chart for the entire class with 12 boxes.  Title each of eleven boxes with two letters, ( A-B; C-D; E-F; G-H; I-J; K-L; M-N; O-P; Q-R; S-T; U-V).  Title the final box WXYZ.

Under the boxes, create two areas to be filled in: “Content Prediction” and “Questions Article Should Answer.”  

Wordstorming can be used to anticipate the content of a chapter or article  prior to beginning study.

One way to assess your students’ understanding is to see what terms they know that relate to the topic.  The more topic-related words they come up with, the deeper their substantive knowledge before they begin.  By creating predictions a questions based on the words, kids are given a purpose for reading.

Allen suggests asking students to work in groups.  They will brainstorm as many words as they can think of that begin with the letters you’ve assigned them: words that pertain to the content of the article/chapter. 

Give them four to five minutes to Wordstorm.

Read the title of the piece and assign them their letters.  The words they choose should be ones they predict will be found in the text.

After you call time, let the students give you their words to be recorded on the class chart.  Discuss whether and how the words are relevant to the topic.  From the words that have been generated, create predictions and questions the class needs to have answered.

At this point, with the chart remaining visible to the class, the teacher/everyone reads the text.   Students will now revisit their predictions to see if they were on target; they’ll determine which of their questions have been answered.

If some students missed important points, use the collection of words to clarify and summarize.

How One Teacher Used the Wordstoming Tool

Janet Allen reports that one group of middle school students was about to begin reading “The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963” [Doubleday]. 

The article selected by the teacher for a read-aloud prior to beginning the novel was from TIME magazine, “The Ghosts of Alabama,” [5/29/2000].

The teacher decided on the letters B, I, K and S  for her students’ Wordstorming activity.   She was then able to take the words, incorporate them into predictions and questions, and give the class a purpose for reading their book.

source: J. Allen,  “More Tools for Teaching Content Literacy,” 2008, ISBN 978-1-57110-771-8.  See also J. Allen 1995.  “It’s Never Too Late: Leading Adolescents to Lifelong Literacy.”  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.  Also J. Allen 2000.  “Yellow Brick Roads: Shared and Guided Paths to Independent Reading 4-12.”  Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021  or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

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